Home Construction In Jesus’ World -- By: Brian N. Peterson

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 28:4 (Fall 2015)
Article: Home Construction In Jesus’ World
Author: Brian N. Peterson

Home Construction In Jesus’ World

Brian N. Peterson

As a professor who also just happens to be a carpenter by trade, I am always fascinated by how buildings are constructed. This is particularly true of the construction practices of ancient builders. I often find myself asking the question: “How did they do that without power tools and cranes?” As I have excavated at Khirbet el-Maqatir and toured different sites around Israel I have learned a lot about these building practices. More specifically, during my second and third years of excavations (2011-2012) I began to discern a noticeable consistency in how walls were constructed at Maqatir in relation to other sites in and around the highlands of Israel. Along with this I started to take note of the size of rooms and how doors, gates, and openings in general were fashioned. From all of this “material culture” at Maqatir and from my touring of Israel I began to put together what originally was a short paper on “Wall Construction in the First Century.” From that developed a more detailed presentation of home construction in general, a topic I have presented on twice during our annual ABR dig lecture series in Israel. Now that three more years have passed I feel it is time to finally put some of my field experience and research into a final form. Surely other trades persons, do-it-yourselfers, and weekend carpenters will be interested to know the answer to the question: “How did they do that?” Because the house(s) at Maqatir are situated in the highlands, I will focus on this particular type of home construction even though other methods did exist. Where applicable I will make comments about alternate building materials and practices.

Michael Luddeni

Figure 1: Lee students Haylie Daniels and Rachel Gaby excavating a cistern/silo in the “stable” of P20 in 2013.

Preparations For Constructing Homes

Perhaps the clearest presentations of the construction of buildings found in the Bible are those dealing with the building of the tabernacle and temple. Long before the days of Home Depot and Lowes, when people started construction projects the first thing they had to do after deciding on a plan was to gather materials. Moses, David and Solomon all gathered materials in abundance before they began the construction of the house of God (cf. Ex 25:1-7; 1 Chr 29:1-5; 2 Chr 2:1-9; 1 Kgs 6:7, see also Hag 1:8). Now to be sure, an undertaking such as the building of the temple far ex...

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